Category: Help For Heroes
A military veteran who successfully battled back from two strokes is preparing for a fundraising effort that will raise money for Help for Heroes and another charity. John Owens who served during the first Gulf War says running helped him deal with his post-traumatic stress disorder which he says he experienced following the death of a friend and former comrade.
One of the youngest soldiers to serve
Mr Owens has been nominated for a Soldiering On Awards. He says after his medical discharge from the army, he developed a passion for running which aided him in his recover. Aged only 17 Mr Owens was one of the youngest soldiers to have served in the first Gulf War. During his twenties Mr Owens suffered a stroke without realising and continued with the Royal Highland Fusiliers. A decade later when Mr Owens suffered a second stroke, he understood his military career was over.
Running is therapy
Despite the devastation wreaked by the strokes, Mr Owens was able to recover. He says the running was very therapeutic following the suicide of his best friend in 2016. As a result Mr Owens will be running 1,000 miles this year in memory of his friend whilst he raises money for Help for Heroes and Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland both of which played a vital role in his recovery. His efforts have not gone unnoticed and as a result he has been nominated for awards.
Mr Owens says the nomination itself speaks volumes especially in terms of his own recovery. Although his journey has been challenging he has overcome it and he has his eye on future goals. After leaving the military Mr Owens said he had to open his eyes and step into what can be a very difficult world without the support of the military. Discharge was the end of everything he had ever known and he had to come to terms with the fact that he had overcome major health issue and find a way to move forward.
Category: Help For Heroes
A veteran of the UK Airforce is about to undertake a gruelling trek across one of the planet’s harshest environment’s as she seeks to raise money for ex-servicemen and women. Diane McLeish who had a 32-year career treating service people and evacuating them from conflict zones in Afghanistan, Bosnia and the Gulf serving as a medic with the RAF is set to join a group of fundraisers who will be hiking for more than 24 miles in the torrid heat of the Sahara.
The fundraising group will begin their journey in the Jebel Sarho mountains and their trek will take them past oases and vast open desert filled with hundreds of sand dunes until they reach the finish line in the small community of Taghbalt in Morocco. The group is seeking to raise money for Help for Heroes and Ms McLeish who is from Clermiston has already raised an astonishing £300,000. She will be joined on the trek by her god daughter Zoe Foster who together will form the Scottish contingent of the group and have been dubbed the “Haggis Hunters”.
The two will be part of a group of 40 trekkers participating in the challenge which is expected to take them about three days to complete. Ms McLeish says her experience with the RAF inspired her to go out there and raise money herself. She says she saw first hand what Help for Heroes does whilst she was serving in Afghanistan and how they assisted sick and wounded veterans. She adds that she believes the money raised by volunteers will be well spent by the charity, in particular delivering support to individuals who require assistance at home, or those who suffer from mental health issues and helping them to return to work or recover through sport.
After retiring from the RAF in 2009 Ms McLeish started volunteering for Help for Heroes and undertook a number of fundraising exercises. Her god daughter Zoe who works as a pastry chef also has a military background having served for more than two decades with the Air Cadets in Portobello. Zoe says her decision to take part in the challenge was because she and her god mother always said they would do a Help for Heroes challenge together and as a result has been rigorously preparing for the challenge.
Category: Help For Heroes
A new study by Help for Heroes has found that British military veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) on average wait up to 4 years before asking for help. According to the results of the study, many chose not to seek out support simply because they did not believe that civilian services would either understand them or support them. Others worried they would be treated differently by friends and family.
Veterans don’t ask for help
The study also found an astonishing 30 per cent of veterans suffering from mental health issues that are the result of war have not sought out any help whatsoever. Rather unsurprisingly Help for Heroes wants to change this behaviour and is doing so by showing veterans that not only is mental health support available but is actively encouraged through a campaign the charity calls ‘Cut The Clock’.
It is okay to seek support
Karen Mead who runs psychological wellbeing for Help for Heroes says the organisation deeply believes that this behaviour of veterans not accessing mental health support when they need is has to change. The campaign is urging the country to put an end to the stigma and allow those that have served in the military know that it is okay to ask for help.
Veterans should not suffer in silence
England Rugby World Cup winner Matt Dawson is launching the campaign for Help for Heroes with buildings throughout London serving as host to a projected “Stigma Clock” being used to encourage people to lend their support and encourage donations. Mark Beckham a veteran who served in Kosovo says he went 16 years without seeking help for mental health issues and doesn’t want anyone to suffer as long as he did.
Pride should not get in the way
Mr Beckham says it is common for service men and women to have a sense of pride and not to be seen as a weak person. That is why many simply do no not ask for help because they don’t want to be considered the weak link in the chain. Andrew Taylor who served in the Royal Army Medical Corps says he waited four years before finally asking for help after his medical discharge in 2013.
Be open because there is no stigma
Mr Taylor says he lost his sense of identity, his career and friendships after suffering serious injuries from a suicide bomb blast in Afghanistan. He says after he decided to seek out help, he is now in a much better place and advises other veterans struggling with mental health issues to come out in the open and ask for help. A study by King’s College London found that nearly one third of all veterans who saw combat in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from mental health issues.
Category: Help For Heroes
Help for Heroes is urging the UK government to provide additional funding for the most seriously injured British veterans. The organisation says there are at least a dozen veterans with injuries so serious, they will never full recover from the wounds they suffered on the battlefield. The charity says the veteran’s injuries are so extensive that in previous eras, they probably would not have survived. According to Help for Heroes some of the injured are having to rely on friends and family for their care because under current NHS packages, they aren’t fully funded.
Choosing care at the expense of quality of life
Help for Heroes says many injured service people are forced to make the choice of care at the expense of their quality of life and constantly need to fight to ensure that their long-term care and rehabilitation needs are met. The charity adds that the medical conditions of these service people will not get any better and the only thing that prevents them from achieving a sense of confidence, self-worth and esteem to live a more purposeful and meaningful life is money.
In a recent report published by the charity, Help for Heroes is urging the UK government to provide a further £600,000 in funding to support extremely seriously injured veterans. The funding would be part of the Government’s Integrated Personal Commissioning for Veterans project. Carol Betteridge who heads up Help for Heroes Welfare and Clinical Services department says the requirements of veterans that have very serious injuries are the most complex.
Wanting to live a normal life
Many of these ex-service people do want to live as complete a life as possible. She adds that the charity wishes to work as closely as possible with the MOD, NHS and other authorities to ensure they are cared for but the project requires urgent funding. Help for Heroes Chief Executive Mel Waters says the charity is committed to partnering with the government to improve the lives of injured veterans and their families so that they can all live safe and healthy lives filled with meaning.
Funding would make a huge difference
Ms Waters adds the paper is the first in a series of proposals outlining what the charity believes the government should be doing. She concludes that by praising the NHS for doing what it can, however acknowledges that funding for the scheme would make an enormous difference to the lives of very seriously injured veterans.
Category: Help For Heroes
Help for Heroes has established a new support programme for veterans and armed forces personnel in Wales. The programme will be administered from the Help for Heroes Community Recovery Office in Treforest and will serve women and men from all over Wales that have been wounded, injured or sick as a result of having served in the military. The programme is split into three parts that seeks to inspire, enable and support people making the transition from military service to civilian life.
Providing direction and clarity
The programme runs for 12 days and has already been successfully running at other Help for Heroes regional bases for a number of years now. One former member of the Royal Artillery who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan and was medically discharged as a result of injuries sustained during service following a 22-year career has taken part in a trial of the Pathfinder Experience at Help for Heroes Treforest office. He says he was lost in terms of career direction and needed more clarity.
Identifying future opportunities
Help for Heroes turned out to be the best people to talk too because they have subject matter experts. The people running the course predominantly have military backgrounds and can empathise with the situation and guide people on their way forward. Louis Nethercott who heads up the national career recovery team for Help for Heroes says the course is about helping people learn more about themselves in terms of strengths, weaknesses etc as well as assisting in identifying opportunities for the future. By the time individuals complete the programme, they should have the tools necessary to translate their strengths and skills sets into civilian life.
Providing support for anyone who needs it
The roll out of the programme in Wales means that people who live locally will benefit, they will not have to commute and face unnecessary stress to participate. The office is located in a quiet neighbourhood and there are plenty of amenities nearby. A local Help for Heroes spokesperson says the organisation is delighted to be able to offer the Pathfinder Experience programme to veterans living in Wales. The response to the trial version earlier in the year was phenomenal and the charity is keen to continue encouraging those that already engage and wants to hear from anyone who needs its support.